Pace of global ICT growth in 15 years
Indeed, the pace of the growth has provided huge opportunities for social and economic development.
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), with the world now home to about seven billion people, it projected that 3.2 billion people are using the Internet by end 2015, of which two billion are from developing countries.
ITU in its ICT Facts and Figures: The World in 2015, a recent study it conducted, observed that for every Internet user in the developed world there are two in the developing world. However, it said that four billion people from developing countries remain offline, representing two third of the population residing in developing countries.
The new study tracked ICT progress and showed gaps in connectivity since the year 2000, when world leaders established the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, observed that the new figures not only showede the rapid technological progress made to date, but will also help to identify those being left behind in the fast-evolving digital economy, as well as the areas where ICT investment is needed most.
According to ITU, of the 940 million people living in the least developed countries (LDCs), only 89 million use the Internet, corresponding to a 9.5 per cent penetration rate.
The United Nations arm in charge of global telecommunications said by end of 2015, there will be more than seven billion mobile cellular subscriptions, corresponding to a penetration rate of 97 per cent, up from 738 million in 2000
It noted that between 2000-2015 global Internet penetration grew seven fold from 6.5 per cent to 43 per cent.
In addition to this, it noted that mobile broadband is the most dynamic market segment; globally, stressing that mobile broadband penetration reaches 47 per cent in 2015, a value that increased 12 times since 2007.
The ICT Facts and Figures disclosed that the proportion of households with Internet access at home increased from 18 per cent in 2005 to 46 per cent in 2015.
While fixed-broadband uptake is growing at a slower pace, with a seven per cent yearly increase over the past three years and reaching 11 per cent penetration by end 2015, the study posited that the proportion of the population covered by a 2G mobile-cellular network grew from 58 per cent in 2001 to 95 per cent in 2015.
In terms of percentage household with Internet access, the study said by end 2015, 34 per cent of households in developing countries have Internet access, compared with more than 80 per cent in developed countries.
In LDCs, only seven per cent of households have Internet access, compared with the world average of 46 per cent. According to it, Internet penetration in developing countries stands at 35 per cent while LDCs lagged behind with only 10 per cent
ITU discovered that in Africa, one in five people use the Internet today, compared to almost two in five people in Asia and Pacific, and three in five people in the CIS.
Also, Mobile-broadband penetration levels in the last 15 years have been highest in Europe and the Americas, at around 78 active subscriptions per 100 inhabitants
In this, Africa, according to the study is the only region where mobile broadband penetration remains below 20 per cent, while they are highest in Europe and the Americas, at around 78 active subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.
While broadband penetration is at 10 per cent in Nigeria, ITU discovered that in 2014, in 111 countries the price of a basic (fixed or mobile) broadband plan corresponded to less than five per cent of average GNI per capita, thus meeting the Broadband Commission target.
The global average price of a basic fixed broadband plan (52 PPP$) is 1.7 times higher than the average price of a comparable mobile-broadband plan (30 PPP$).
The study observed that from 2000 to 2015, in developing countries, average monthly fixed broadband prices (in PPP$) are three times higher than in developed countries; mobile broadband prices are twice as expensive as in developed countries.
Commenting, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, Brahima Sanou, said: “ICTs will play an even more significant role in the post-2015 era and in achieving future Sustainable Development Goals as the world moves faster and faster towards a digital society.”